Ever been utterly bemused by an instruction manual? Or bought a product that didn’t come with one at all? These days it seems we’re just expected to know how products work, but not all of us were born tech savvy…
As tech products and services become more and more sophisticated and complex, proper instructions and guidance written in plain English can help us get the best out of them.
That’s why it seems strange that manufactures don’t always do this. We’ve found from our testing, and from many of you, that some manuals just aren’t written in jargon-free, easy-to-understand plain English. The simple question is, why not?
Tested to instruction
Instruction manuals can seem rather old fashioned and many people just won’t have a need to even take them out of the box. But we know that there are still those of us that rely on them when they get stuck with their products.
We assess instruction manuals on some products as part of our testing to see how easy they are to set up and use. And we unearth some bizarre examples. For example, this clear-as-mud snippet is from an indoor TV aerial manual:
‘When interconnecting equipment and to get the best carrier to noise then place the digital terrestrial television set top box as the first item in the signal path followed by any video or satellite receiver.’
Time to be clear
Sometimes, you may even find there’s no manual at all and instead you’re left to your own, ahem, devices. You may think that in this case people should just work it out for themselves, but that supposes they have a good enough technical ability to do this. Plus, it’s often the case that on-screen menus just aren’t clear enough, being littered with confusing instructions and language.
And then things can get even more complicated with permission warnings – the little boxes that pop up with apps or websites asking our permission to do this or that. If these important warnings are worded in a way that you don’t understand, how can you know what you’re actually agreeing to?
We’re currently investigating the instructions and guidance (or lack of) we get with our technology products and services. So, do you have any examples of confusing language used in tech product literature? What do you feel about the hard-copy manuals being replaced with on-screen instructions?
Yes - I can't live without them (60%, 994 Votes)
Maybe - depends on if the manual is easy to find online (32%, 538 Votes)
No - think of the trees! (8%, 125 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,657